After discovering recently that a documentary is being made about the late Andy Irons, I started thinking hard about the relationship between substance abuse and surfing. In short, it’s a problem. Yes, It has long hindered the sport’s legitimacy, and it has tragically taken the lives of some of surfing’s best and brightest stars. But what I’ve most appreciated over the years is watching the surf industry overwhelmingly choose to glorify, ignore, or enthusiastically enable it. What legends! When Surfing magazine was forced to confront the fact that drugs contributed to Irons’ death (because it was reported as such in the New York Times…and his autopsy), they roiled in denial. Some of the anti-truthers left to start What Youth so they could passionately photograph surfers breathing cigarettes, and Chas Smith went on to develop his swastika fetish and spineless dickish-ness to sights unseen! I, for one, am very impressed. Commitment to ideals! You don’t see that shit often enough. To watch your hero die tragically alone in a hotel room far away from those who loved him from drugs then use any distribution and influence you work hard to create in order to inspire kids to walk into the same deathtrap seems like a brilliant and worthwhile use of time and money. And, quite frankly, I’d like to see everyone follow suit. Get kids hooked early! Then maybe we can watch (help?) them die, then light up a cigarette, wash a Xanny down with some whiskey and pretentiously flick our nose in the air with disgust if and when anyone asks about the truth behind their demise. “Not cool at all, guy! Doesn’t make me feel ‘surfy‘ at all! You must be a loser. Ha. You’re a loser! Surfing is for cool people, not losers!”
So here are five reasons why I’m absolutely enamored with the courage and artistry behind surfing’s glorification of substance abuse. It’s so…dignified.